August 01, 2014

2:18 PM | Job posting: chemistry technician, Brownsville, NE
From the inbox, a A.A./B.S. chemist position at a nuclear power plant: The major responsibility is to monitor and maintain the following as specified in the individual employee training plan: Liquid and gaseous plant effluents, water quality in all plant systems, corrosion controls, biomonitoring, liquid radioactive waste processing, decontamination, environmental controls, personnel safety, and radiation and contamination surveys thus protecting plant systems, the general public and […]
2:13 PM | Parents warn of crucial "babysitter skills gap"
Couple warns of tight supply of qualified child care providers, supports BS-1 visa program"We just can't find people who have college degrees in early childhood education, but are willing to work for $7.50 an hour to look after our two kids," they complained. "America has a shortage of child care providers and we need the best and the brightest from around the world to compete in our increasingly global child care labor pool."NB satire
2:07 PM | BLS: 209,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs in July, unemployment up 0.1% to 6.2%
Fresh electrons from the BLS: the unemployment rate went up slightly (by 0.1%) in July. Nonfarm payroll growth was slightly lower than expected at 209,000 in July.The broader U6 measurement of unemployment was up 0.1% in July to 12.2%.Employment in the chemical manufacturing subsector was up 300 positions to 802,600. Seems like just yesterday that number was below 800,000; nothing other than a numerical milestone, really.Unemployment was down 0.2% for college graduates to 3.1%; unemployment for […]
1:44 PM | A week of links
Links this week: Some gold from Robert Sapolsky – what is going on in teenage brains? Plus a bonus interview. The latest issue of Nautilus (the source of the Sapolsky material) contains a lot of other good material – fruit and vegetables trying to kill you and chaos in the brain among them. I recommend scanning the table of contents. […]

July 31, 2014

3:05 PM | I love corporate America, part 731
I'm saddened to learn of layoffs at Amgen; I'm rather ironically amused to learn that cuts have a name from a comment by Chrispy at In The Pipeline (emphasis mine):The current trend of gutting internal R&D with the hope in in-licensing Phase II molecules is not a model for long-term success. Without researchers you will not even understand what you are buying. But maybe it doesn't matter if you don't listen to them, anyway (e.g., Sirtris). The nutty thing from the inside is that this […]
1:55 PM | Advice for anxious sleepers
When I was young I used to suffer from depression from time to time, sometimes pretty badly. But ever since I had kids, I suffer much more from anxiety. It’s never been paralyzing but it means I have trouble falling asleep about once or twice a week because I can’t stop fretting. I’m jealous of […]
3:28 AM | An MSiX reading list
Yesterday was day one of the Marketing Science Ideas Xchange (MSiX). As I mentioned in a previous post, it has been an interesting opportunity to see behavioural science outside of the academic and economics environments I am used to. There were a lot of interesting presentations, and a lot of good books were mentioned along the way. […]

July 30, 2014

5:24 PM | Reflections on seeing a picture of an empty lab
Credit: WYNCNPR has an story today about the old Roche facility in Nutley, New Jersey. I find this picture incredibly sad for its emptiness. There are no reagents on the shelves, no dishes on the rack, no clutter on the bench top nor reactions in the hoods. Someone once said that Spielberg used flashlights to tell you "something is not quite right here"; when I look at that real estate guy in that lab without lab glasses on, I have that same feeling. Of course, something isn't right […]
11:02 AM | The Head First book series
I’ve been reading Head First Java this past week and I’m super impressed and want to tell you guys about it if you don’t already know. I wanted to learn what the big fuss was about object-oriented programming, plus it seems like all the classes my Lede students are planning to take either require python […]

July 29, 2014

5:04 PM | Busy this morning
But in the meantime, a favorite story from Derek Lowe:There was, the story goes, a pork-pie company over in England that was producing huge numbers of the things. Huge, that is, compared to their number of employees. In fact, on closer inspection, they were cranking out more pork pies than even seemed possible. This began to attract attention, and soon a team of managerial consultants had flown over from the US, eager to learn the secret. "Do you have Pareto chart analysis?", they asked […]
1:37 PM | Gigerenzer versus nudge
Since I first came across it, I have been a fan of Gerd Gigerenzer’s work. But I have always been slightly perplexed by the effort he expends framing his work in opposition to behavioural science and “nudges”. Most behavioural science aficionados who are aware of Gigerenzer’s work are fans of it, and you can appreciate behavioural […]
11:12 AM | The problem with charter schools
Today I read this article written by Allie Gross (hat tip Suresh Naidu), a former Teach for America teacher whose former idealism has long been replaced by her experiences in the reality of education in this country. Her article is entitled The Charter School Profiteers. It’s really important, and really well written, and just one of […]

July 28, 2014

3:09 PM | Suggestions for the ACS' industrial chemists committee?
Also in this week's C&EN, a column talking about what ACS is doing for industrial chemists by Dawn Mason, the chair of Corporation Associates committee, which is the ACS's "formal link between these chemists and the society."Here are the list of areas the CA commitee is currently working on: SafetyLobbying Congress ACS policy statementsEducational outreachEntrepreneurialismAwards Dr. Mason ends with this statement:We don’t do this work in a vacuum and are […]
2:50 PM | Chemtura in lawsuit on brominated flame retardants?
In this week's C&EN, a fascinating little comment from the CEO of Chemtura on flame retardants (article by Marc Reisch): Although growth is promising in lubricants and urethanes, the bromine business is going through a difficult time because of a lull in demand for flame retardants used in electronic equipment, Rogerson acknowledges. That business is also under pressure from regulators. Methyl bromide, for example, is being phased out as a fumigant because it depletes […]
2:47 PM | This week's C&EN
Lots of interesting articles in this week C&EN:The MH17 story is really awful; Jyllian Kemsley covers an aspect of the tragedy, the death of an IU graduate student who was on the plane.Scripps president Michael Marletta resigns; story by Elizabeth K. Wilson.  Letter suggests that we need more socialism in this world; will be interesting to see angry responses in future issues. Letter suggests that ACS move to virtual conferences to prevent climate change; I suspect concern […]
11:20 AM | The app effect
I have a theory which I’m slightly embarrassed about but whatever, that’s what blogs are for, I’m going to talk about it. And I have no data for this whatsoever, although I’d be interested to hear thoughts on how to collect some. Namely, I think a sizable amount of social change we’ve seen in the […]

July 27, 2014

2:32 PM | Why doesn't the 'long emergency' feel like an emergency?
In 2006 when James Howard Kunstler published his breakthrough book The Long Emergency, the next two years seemed to vindicate his warning that the oil age was coming to an end with perilous consequences. Oil soared to $147 a barrel in mid-2008. A few analysts suggested that it was headed for $200; but that was not to be. By autumn the stock market had collapsed and with it the world economy. Oil, too, then collapsed, trading in the mid-$30 range by December as demand for oil fell off a cliff […]

July 26, 2014

5:52 PM | Aunt Pythia’s amazing advice
Well hello there, cutie, and welcome. Aunt Pythia loves you today, even more than usual! For some reason she can’t pinpoint, but probably has to do with a general feeling of happiness and fulfillment, Aunt Pythia is even more excited than usual to be here and to toss off unreasonably smug and affectionate opinions and […]

July 25, 2014

4:02 PM | "It's a miracle"
Management lessons from Bull Durham. Have a great weekend! 
4:01 PM | Why STEM is TE: post-secondary education requirements edition
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a fascinating microcosm of the STEM problem: Casale said during the recession, the education level expected by Minnesota employers rose and as the state bounced back, degree requirements fell. In June, the state had the 10th-lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Still, there are remaining factors that determine a higher degree’s level of success — especially its area of focus. In the fourth quarter of last year, 80 percent of responding […]
1:53 PM | Here we go again: biologicals are chemicals, too
I should probably quit beating this drum, but I cannot resist this one. From the Washington Post's Health Reform Watch, Jason Millman writes about the new FDA biosimilars news:The Food and Drug and Administration for the first time has accepted an application for a copycat version of what's known as a biologic, which is a complex drug made from proteins of living organisms. These biologics are cutting-edge therapies that can be more effective than regular drugs made from chemicals — and, […]
1:49 PM | A week of links
Links this week: Detecting irrational exuberance in the brain – neuroeconomists confirm Warren Buffett’s wisdom (original article here). Spouses are more genetically similar than people chosen at random, but they are far more similar in education (ungated pdf). A well established fact, but further evidence that impatient adolescents do worse later in life. Homo Oeconomicus Versus […]
10:59 AM | Nerding out: RSA on an iPython Notebook
Yesterday was a day filled with secrets and codes. In the morning, at The Platform, we had guest speaker Columbia history professor Matthew Connelly, who came and talked to us about his work with declassified documents. Two big and slightly depressing take-aways for me were the following: As records have become digitized, it has gotten […]

July 24, 2014

8:06 PM | Anyone ever had grad student/postdoc pay stop because of the university changing its policies?
I'm hearing about grad students at a research university having their pay periods change, and therefore basically missing a paycheck. There is blame on the Affordable Care Act, which is a little odd.What happens in these sort of situations? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? What is the most effective way for a group of graduate students or postdocs to mount a response? 
7:58 PM | Job posting: FDA postdoc in surface analytical chemistry, Winchester, MA
From the inbox:I am looking for post-doctoral fellow to work with me on a project developing Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) methods.  Raman experience is not required, analytical chemistry skills are needed.  I can provide more information to interested individuals.  Please follow up if I can provide more information or if you know someone looking for a position.  The monthly stipend is $6,239 (no benefits/insurance is provided).  The position is for one […]
7:55 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 7/24/14 edition
A few of the recent positions posted on C&EN Jobs:我的工作去了哪里?: Abbvie is looking for medicinal chemists... in Shanghai:We currently have openings for medicinal chemists at our new, state-of-the-art facility in Shanghai, China.  ...Must have fluency in both Mandarin and English, and be willing to relocate to China.Ahhhhh: It's time for CJ to grind this ax again -- IRIX is looking for a QC senior scientist:Analyst will utilize […]
1:25 PM | Our visual system predicts the future
I am reading John Coates’s thus far excellent The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: How Risk Taking Transforms Us, Body and Mind. There are many highlights and interesting pieces, the below being one of them. First, we do not see in real-time: When light hits out retina, the photons must be translated into a chemical […]

July 23, 2014

3:10 PM | Summer senryu
Busy today, but I thought I would write a few senryu:Summer undergradCan't work the rotovap yetHope they will learn soon Project reports suckI hate doing them so muchMaybe beer will helpManagement cites litPretty sure it doesn't meanWhat you think it doesAnother meetingBlah blah blah blah blah blah blahPlease let's have one more
11:29 AM | How to think like a microeconomist
Yesterday we were pleased to have Suresh Naidu guest lecture in The Platform. He came in and explained, very efficiently because he was leaving at 11am for a flight at noon at LGA (which he made!!) how to think like an economist. Or at least an applied microeconomist. Here are his notes: Applied microeconomics is basically […]

July 22, 2014

1:11 PM | Crime and punishment
When I was prepping for my Slate Money podcast last week I read this column by Matt Levine at Bloomberg on the Citigroup settlement. In it he raises the important question of how the fine amount of $7 billion was determined. Here’s the key part:  Citi’s and the Justice Department’s approaches both leave something to […]
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